‘Fyre’ Pizza Fest organizer calls for ‘newspapers’ to stop blaming the ‘hardworking pizzerias’

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Photo of people in line for the Pizza Festival on Saturday by @krg7880

Walking through Bushwick on Saturday, I saw a very long line of people wrapped around what was clearly, even from a distance, a mostly empty parking lot. On Monday, Gothamist broke the news that it was more than an empty parking lot: it was a parking lot full of pricey and broken promises.

The New York Pizza Festival charged attendees up to $75 for what the Eventbrite describes as an “eclectic tasting of the best pizza in NYC,” and turned out to be a paltry offering of minuscule party slices and warm wine, prompting people to compare it to this summer’s notoriously failed music getaway Fyre Festival. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched a formal investigation into the event’s organizer, Ishmael Osekre, who similarly scammed people at last year’s African Food Fest, and sold tickets to a Burger Festival set for the same day as Saturday’s Pizza Fest.


The profile photo for one Pizza Festival Scam Victims' Facebook group
The profile photo for one Pizza Festival Scam Victims’ Facebook group

Now, Osekre has announced via a bizarre post to the Pizza Festival’s Facebook page, that all tickets will be refunded, for both the pizza and burger festivals – once he can figure out with Eventbrite “how to best resolve the issue.” Apparently, the “back and forth” with Eventbrite has been going on for days. The post is inarticulate and strangely worded, seeming to backhandedly criticize “newspapers” for blaming “the hardworking pizzerias in Brooklyn” for the fiasco. As for Osekre’s reasoning for not giving direct statements to the press, “resolving customer concerns was a priority and focusing on that first has been more important to us at this time.” Uh-huh.

The post, like the Eventbrite description for the festival itself, are both inexact and say very little despite a lot of seemingly carefully formatted text.

Attendees are calling for refunds of tickets from last year’s African Food Fest as well, and no one seems to be buying the apology, or promise of refunded tickets. Pizza Fest victims are reporting another ticketing service, Goldstar, has been refunding tickets.

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